Great Books Program

The Great Books Program leads students to ponder fundamental questions through the greatest texts from classical antiquity to modernity, from Homer to Aquinas and from Dante to Dostoevsky.

Benedictine College’s Great Books Program was named one of the 25 Best Great Books Programs in America by Best College Reviews.

Want a taste of the program? Try the Great Books interest track this summer during our Catholic academic youth camp, BCYC Immersion.

The Great Books Program at Benedictine College is an option for students who want to fulfill general education requirements (which all students must take) in a more traditional Liberal Arts format. Great Books scholars at Benedictine College study the foundational works of Western thought. The courses are open to all students, whatever major, allowing anyone who wants to encounter history’s great minds in a seminar environment the ability to enroll.

Because the Liberal Arts constitute one of the four pillars of a Benedictine education, many courses at Benedictine College qualify as Great Books courses. Our specific Great Books courses follow a chronological sequence which follows over four semesters the historical development of human thought and imagination in history: The Ancient World, The Middle Ages, The Renaissance and The Moderns. (To allow students greater flexibility of schedule, it is occasionally permitted that the courses be taken in a different order.)

The Printed Page and Beyond

Great Books scholars will also be encouraged to participate in Benedictine College’s “Faith and Reason” three-semester sequence which systematically examines the great works in philosophy and theology.

To encourage camaraderie among Great Books scholars, Benedictine College will provide opportunities for the scholars to meet and further investigate literature and the arts, including visits to such places of cultural and intellectual interest as the Nelson-Atkins Museum and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. On these visits, students will be accompanied by professors so that the classroom discussion environment can embrace not only great books, but also great works of music, art and theatre.


Cicero made the argument for Great Books in his day when he said:

“Books are full of such precepts, and all the sayings of philosophers, and all antiquity is full of precedents teaching the same lesson; but all these things would lie buried in darkness, if the light of literature and learning were not applied to them. How many images of the bravest men, carefully elaborated, have both the Greek and Latin writers bequeathed to us, not merely for us to look at and gaze upon, but also for our imitation!” (Pro Archia Poetā, 14)

From Homer to Dante, from Plato to Dostoevsky, from Augustine to Sartre, the Great Books offer students the opportunity to encounter the great minds that shaped the world we live in. By entering the conversation with great thinkers about the fundamental problems facing mankind, Great Books students will be able thoughtfully to consider perennial truths, timelessly expressed, embodied in the classics of our civilization.

Above all, a Great Books education results in a graduate who is passionate about seeking the truth and is rooted in the Western tradition, but also enriched in many other ways. Reading the Great Books and discussing them in seminars give students the skills in thinking critically, writing clearly and pursuing the truth together with others that employers and graduate schools highly value and that serve students well in all walks of life.


Edward Mulholland, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Sheridan Chair of Classics
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